Behind the Mic with Joe Zagacki
Katie Meier still has a month of the season to go and has already earned her fifth straight 20-win season as head coach of the University of Miami women’s basketball team. She is also primed to go to her fifth straight NCAA Tournament. Including this season, Katie has nine 20 or more win seasons.
This past month the Canes had one of their biggest wins ever taking down the defending national champions Notre Dame Fighting Irish. It was a memorable night at the Watsco Center.
The crowd was engaged and the Canes played a splendid high-level game from start to finish. I’ve been fortunate to witness the rise of women’s basketball with a front row seat hosting Katie’s television and radio shows and the last several years calling the action on television on ACC Network Extra.
A simple reason for the success of the program is Katie is here. In two of her first four years, Miami was under 500 — 13-17 in 2008-2009. This success isn’t built on magic dust.
Coach Meier knew what she wanted the program to look like and stand for. She was building a culture and a standard. She didn’t go for a short-term fix. Coach Meier was building a program that would sustain. It was in her sixth year that Miami made the NCAA Tournament.
Her nine 20-plus win seasons have all come after the first four years. Sometimes a coach needs a little time and patience to build the program they envision. Look at this program now.
A year in and year out winner in the ACC, a perennial NCAA tournament team, high level recruits coming in, playing a great schedule, recently the largest gift commitment in the history of the women’s basketball program – BJ Abolt has pledged a seven-figure estate gift to establish a women’s basketball scholarship endowment. Named after head coach Katie Meier at Abolt’s request, it will be the first fully-endowed women’s athletics scholarship at Miami.
Meanwhile, in football Head Coach Manny Diaz won January and February with his creative use of social media and building the Canes roster through recruiting the conventional way and through using transfers.
I love the concept of adding in the transfers. I’ve said this many times. The Hurricanes have trouble sustaining success in football because they have had a tough time keeping a roster together due to attrition. By bringing in several transfers, the roster will be older and more experienced. Age and experience go a long way in creating a successful and championship roster.
Coach Diaz told us earlier this month the turnover chain will return but we might need something for the offense. Oh my! What could that be? We’ll just have to watch to see how the next chapter of Hurricanes football unfolds.
An exciting chapter of University of Miami baseball begins with the Gino DiMare era. I am looking forward to watching Coach DiMare lead the Canes. He’s been connected to Miami baseball since the late 80s as player for Coach Fraser and, of course, assistant to Jim Morris.
Much like the way he played I expect his teams to be gritty, fundamentally sound and always hustling.